Earlier this year, the Port of Baltimore set an all-time cruise passenger record for one sailing. This time, the record is for most cruise passengers in one calendar year. On a September 19th sailing of the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas, the Port surpassed its previous mark of 104,253 embarked passengers set in 2004 during a year when the Port offered a then-record 60 cruises. Through October 22nd , a total of 125,248 passengers have left on cruises from the Cruise Maryland terminal at the Port of Baltimore.

“This sends a strong message to the international cruise industry that this port, this city, and this state can effectively handle an increased amount of cruise business,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Despite an extremely challenging economy, most of our cruises have sailed near maximum capacity. Our area’s large population market and our cruise terminal’s outstanding location right off Interstate 95 provide us unique advantages.”

Through October 22nd , 60 cruises have sailed from Baltimore this year. A ship’s total passenger capacity is based upon the number of available staterooms at dual occupancy per room. When a family of four occupies a stateroom, the dual capacity for that room is exceeded.

The Port’s 81 homeport cruises in 2009 is expected to have an economic impact of about $152 million in its first year of all-seasonal cruising. In addition to year-round service provided by Carnival, other cruise lines sailing from the Cruise Maryland terminal this year are: Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Deilmann. This year, the Port expects about 165,000 passengers to cruise from Baltimore.

Last year, 27 cruises left from Baltimore with an economic impact of nearly $63 million. About 47,000 passengers cruised from the Port of Baltimore in 2008 when two cruise lines offered service.

In 2010, the Port will offer a record 92 cruises, including additional year-round service from Royal Caribbean. The Port of Baltimore is the closest East Coast drive-to port from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Chicago. Baltimore is also within a three-hour drive from the New York City metro area. The Cruise Maryland terminal is only 2.5 miles from Baltimore’s world famous Inner Harbor, 10 miles from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, and little more than an hour from three other major airports.